Welcome to my Crime and Justice blog! I am a 19 year old criminal justice student at the University of Winnipeg. I advocate for prisoners' rights, human rights, equality and criminal justice/prison system reforms.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Those with outstanding warrants, deserve to be allowed welfare

We already knew Manitoba New Democrats have a soft spot for welfare recipients who don’t want to work and who would rather live off the earnings of others.
Who could forget the memorable line by then-newly minted family services minister Tim Sale, who in 2000 announced he had never met a welfare recipient who didn’t want to work?
“I have yet to meet an able-bodied or a capable social assistance recipient who doesn’t want to work,” Sale said at the time, leaving Manitobans with no doubt “Today’s” NDP had not lost its socialist roots.
It took only a few months upon winning office in October 1999 for the NDP to quash provincial workfare legislation designed to ensure able-bodied welfare recipients worked for their cheques. Also, with great glee I recollect, they cancelled the welfare snitch line set up to make it easier for Manitobans to report social assistance abuse.
What we didn’t know is the NDP is also a big supporter of doling out welfare cheques to Manitobans on the run from the law.
Tory MLA Kelvin Goertzen tabled a private members’ bill last week that would have prevented people with outstanding warrants from receiving social assistance cheques.
That one fell into the category of “You mean we hand out welfare cheques to serious criminals on the lam?” Yup.
The issue just never came up — until British Columbia recently addressed it with similar legislation of its own.
When the Tories checked into it here, it turned out there was nothing in our laws preventing someone who had committed a serious crime and gone AWOL from collecting welfare.
Goertzen’s bill would have allowed officials to cross-reference the processing of welfare payments with outstanding court orders. If someone who committed a serious offence had an outstanding warrant and refused to show up in court, the proposed legislation would have ensured that person did not receive a welfare cheque.
It makes eminently good sense.
But the Selinger government rejected the idea and essentially quashed Goertzen’s bill Thursday.
They refused to allow the bill to go to a vote which would have sent it to committee, where the public and others would have had input into it during open meetings. It would have allowed government and the opposition to fine-tune the bill, if necessary, and address any legal concerns with the proposed law.
Instead, the NDP simply killed it.
They apparently see nothing wrong with dangerous criminals on the lam collecting welfare cheques, paid for by you and me.
Strange position.
It’s like giving Clifford Olson and other violent convicted criminals Old Age Security cheques, which we recently discovered we’ve been doing for years.
The federal Tories tabled a bill this week to get rid of that.
And outside of the John Howard Society, I haven’t heard anyone raise a concern about that move.
Does anyone out there really think it’s a good idea to give welfare cheques to people who commit serious crimes who are on the lam?
If so, I’d like to hear from you.
I’ll put the question up on my blog Raise a Little Hell at winnipegsun.com. I’d be very interested in hearing arguments in favour of doling out welfare cheques to people with outstanding warrants.
Maybe Justice Minister Andrew Swan could explain it to us.

This is a violation of human rights! Those with outstanding warrants for their arrests, are innocent until proven guilty. We should not be depriving and punishing innocent individuals. Besides, the government has not even done the research or have stats for how many individuals rely on welfare and have outstanding warrants for serious offences. My guess is, the number would be very small. We should be focusing our efforts, not on this small population, but on preventing crime in the first place with more programs and assistance to those living in impoverished neighbourhoods. Also, some people may have warrants out for their arrest and are unaware. Denying those people welfare, also impacts their family and children, if they also, rely on social assistance. If people with outstanding warrants are relying on social assistance and are receiving checks, the police should easily be able to track them down and arrest them at their residence. This seems like the more sensible option, as opposed to denying welfare to all of those innocent people with outstanding warrants. Plus, it is less expensive.

Tom Brodbeck, you need to educate yourself about criminal law. People with outstanding warrants, are not considered criminals. We cannot give them that label, because they are innocent until proven guilty. That is one of the most fundamental elements of our justice system. Apparently, Brodbeck is not aware of that! Also, we cannot label these people dangerous. You cannot say that for certain. I am glad the NDP government squashed this bill!  At least they have some reason and logic and can see that the Conservatives have no research to support their bill. It was not evidence-based. 


  1. You need to actually read the Legislation and do some research. The Bill and the comments around the legislation indicate there are exceptions for dependent children and for women carrying a baby (so a third party is not impacted). That however would be the exception as the majority of outstanding warrants for court order breaches for serious offences like violent crimes and sexual offences are not for people in care of dependent children. Please do a bit of background research before attacking a reporter like Tom Brodbeck.

  2. The government needs to do some research on how many people this bill would actually affect. I am guessing it is few.

    Regardless, denying someone social assistance because they have a warrant out for their arrest, is discriminatory. They are presumed innocent and that is cruel and unusual punishment.

    I completely disagree with everything Tom Brodbeck reports on. His articles enrage me, as he often is writing an emotional response to an issue as opposed to doing some research about criminal justice issues and writing a rational, reasonable and logical response.